Table of Contents 

PC.GIF     NC.GIF    

Alfred de Grazia: Discovering National Elites





When the operator has oriented himself to the target background, he must cut out of that background the precise targets at whom he wishes to direct his messages, very much as he might cut the geese out of a flock of ducks. A large number of sections to follow are devoted to helping him do this. This section begins that process by showing how to limit the scope of his inquiry. A population is always heterogeneous in its natural state; it has many elements and it is geographically dispersed. It is divided into social group ins by area and by function.

The leadership of a nation differs from the leadership of a part of the nation. The leadership of one neighborhood from that of another. Both are elite; but together they are not always the special elite that one’s message is aimed at. Hence, it is necessity to separate them.

The best way to separate the elite into its components is to analyze the roles of its members. With what roles in society do they identify? With the farmers? With the communist party? With the intelligentsia? With the "people"? With the King? etc. A grouping is known by the fact that some people us it as a reference point in their thought and action. For example, when a soldier has been a member of a squad for a long time, he often filters his ideas and conduct through the screen of what he thinks the squad will agree are right ideas and behavior. A career officer will do the same for the army officer corps, a civil official for his branch of service; a party member for his political party.

Every group then is composed of people who refer to it and "think via it." Some members do so more than others. The leadership of a group ordinarily is more preoccupied with it and "group-oriented" than the rank and file, who may, in turn, be more oriented towards a sub-group (e.g. the army squad rather than the division). When addressing messages at a "group", therefore, the operator will do well to realize the graduations of group or role identification found among its members. The symbols that may affect those of high group identification do not often affect those of low identification.

Furthermore, men have more than one role, in most instances. A corporation director may hold several other directorships. A soldier may also be a farmer. A priest may also be a nationalist. And so on. If the roles are complementary, any class of arguments which affects the individual will be satisfactory. But if the roles are not complementary - or if the argument in effect plays one role against the other - then internal conflicts are set up in the individual. Actually, the latter situation occurs much more often than the farmer. This makes it mandatory to distinguish the roles of an undifferentiated audience, whether or not it is an elite audience, in order to direct at the target messages which will be appreciated. Once the operator has located the elite, he is part way to the target, but the process is not completed until the role components of the target have been identified.


IV-1. Individual records. For a specific person, the dossier is a major source of clues to his roles, for it should provide information on where he was born and raised (his local identification), his education (source of several identifications, such as class, school, internationalism, etc.), his present and past occupations, his religion, and his membership in voluntary associations (such as a political party). Beginning at the top of the elite (in power terms) and going down into it as far as possible, such dossiers should be prepared and used.

IV-2. Individual interviews. Dossiers should be supplemented by interview records wherever possible. (In Section XII-2, problems of interviewing are treated.) There are many ways of querying a man’s identification. All seek ultimately to sub-divide his perceived world into discrete loyalties of known intensity. Respondents may be asked, directly or as subtly as circumstances demand: "With whom do you spend most of your time?" (Also "Free time"); "What kinds of people are you most fond of?"; "If you could join any group you wanted to join, which would you most like to join?"; and "What group would be your second choice?"; "With what part of the people do you find yourself in agreement most of the time?"; and "To what groups do you belong?"

IV-3. Judging the intensity of identification. For greater significance and completeness, the relative strength of a person’s attachment to communities such as the city or nation or social class references, as well as to his clubs, unions, church and profession, ought to be known. At least enough information should be available on a person to place his references in an approximate rank order of importance to him. Thus, both fullness of information and comparative importance of the roles are desirable. If a man’s only group membership is the socialist party and he has never voted for any other group, there are two strong indicators (monopoly and duration) that his political life is bound up with that group reference. If a man belongs to many groups and shifts frequently his affiliations, one should look for more basic loyalties (e.g. to the nation or family) or for an instability of character that can be exploited. In preparing dossiers, it is well to standardize some crude scores of intensity that can be assigned individuals: thus rather than Mr. A. being credited merely with membership in Group X, he might be grades as X2 if he is importantly concerned with X (compared with other members of X), and Xl if X is his most intense identification.

IV-4. Identification with elite or mass. An important special case of identification for many symbolic purposes is the extent to which a person may be rated as identifying with the general elite or with the population as a whole. The importance of the case arises form the fact that the contrast between mass and elite is a hypnotic subject almost everywhere, and much propaganda is directed at it. An individual who is relatively invulnerable to changes of mass attitude and behavior is a target armored against mass propaganda. One who is strongly influenced by mass opinion can often be reached via messages in the mass media. This information is valuable when it is possessed regarding single persons. It is also valuable to have it regarding a special elite or general elite. Variations of such questions as were asked in Section IV-2 will provide the necessary focussing and scoring on this problem.

IV-5. National and international identifications. Another important special case of identification is internationalism. There are often great differences within and among elites in the extent to which they feel they belong to extra-national associations and respond to internationalist symbols. Furthermore, the precise nature of the international references is needed. Since demands for commitments to international groups (U.S.A. policy, N.A.T.O, U.N, Communism, etc.) are numerous and persistent, the elite should be segregated into those vulnerable to the particular extra-national appeals and those that are not. If the elite is available for direct questioning, variations of the approaches suggested in IV-2 will help provide the necessary focussing and scoring on this problem. Another approach might be to record the direction of opinion toward a few key symbols, such as the U.N. or Communism, as indicated in public speeches, writings, or according to the estimate of reliable informants.

IV-6. Group occupation analysis. With personal dossiers in a proper state of completion, but also often with special information obtained from written sources, the operator can make a group occupation analysis. Occupation is one of the most significant role, attitude and behavior indicators. An essential of target identification is a fairly accurate quantitative picture of the occupations of the elite. Occupations may be broken down into several kinds of categories for useful elite target analyses. One breakdown would specify the occupation in great detail, resulting in almost as many categories as tasks. (e.g. tailors, druggists, barbers, tobacconists, etc.) Another would classify occupations according to their general functions, somewhat as follows:

Professional and semi-professional

Self-employed businessmen and artisans




Salesmen, buyers, agents, brokers

Skilled and semi-skilled workers

Unskilled, service and farm workers

Policemen, firemen and military

Farm owners

Miscellaneous workers

Yet another breakdown, aimed directly at analyzing the location of power, would divide the leadership into these categories: I, Owners, managers, workers, and officials. These, in turn, would be sub-divided by: II. Works with people, works with objects or things. The sub-divisions would be further divided by: III. Skills in use of force, skills in symbol manipulation, skills in management of goods and services. Thus, an owner who works with people and is skilled is symbol manipulation (e.g. a newspaper publisher) is distinguished from a manager who works with people and is skilled in use of force (e.g, an Army officer). These several dimensions of a person and a group (such as a legislature, a political party, a union, or an elite in general) provide excellent basic intelligence for sighting propaganda messages. Table 4 illustrates one type of occupational analysis of the more traditional form.



Business & Managerial126 160 191
Agricultural & Fisheries675536
Labor leader or employee03551
Miscellaneous & vacant904617
TOTAL466 466466



OCCUPATIONNames of parties
LiberalDemocraticCo-op.Soc.Dem.Communist.Minor PartiesIndependentTotal
Miscellaneous and vacant106011141244
Miscellaneous and Vacant3311601216
* Total includes 2 Vacant.

IV-7. Class and socialite analysis. Information on the occupations and relationship of the elite to the means of production, as well as being useful in itself, raised a possibility of social class analysis. However, it is advisable to note limitations on the concept of class, with reference to characteristics of the elite. It is most useful to regard social class as existing only when class consciousness exists, that is when there is an awareness of political and social warfare drawn on class lines, or of rigidity along class lines in the performance of the universal activities of commerce, eating and visiting, and marriage.

Verbal self-placement of individuals or groups in a class is significant only to a limited degree. Sometimes people say that no social class system exists, but they operate in terms of one. By the same token, there may be verbal assurances of the existence of class and a lack of other criteria. However, where there is an emphatic denial of social class - in a communist or non-communist country - there is good reason to expect that class political warfare, as one of the criteria, is not allowed to exist.

In the "society page" sense, the social class system may operate to rank the target elite according to who will marry whom and who will visit whom. Diplomatic protocol makes a formal attempt at top elite analysis in setting a table, arranging a reception line, and the like. But these rankings are likely to depend upon formal procedures, legal fictions, international conventions, etc., that conceal real power relationships among those being graded. Beyond the highly visible top few, whose social rank is thus accorded, the bulk of the elite may sometimes have a carefully regulated pattern of social relations or a very mobile one. The operator can check the general type and then the special subtypes that prevail by a variety of straightforward questions. He will often discover that some special elites, for example, inter-marry at a high rate and that others marry only within their own group, with the result that the general elite picture may be a blurred combination of two highly contrasting patterns. Attention to lineage is important, also, both as a clue to role attitude and behavior and as an indicator of informal relationships that may be actuated in crises. The society pages, genealogies, histories, reports of "who was seen with whom," gossip, etc. are all grist for the mill of social analysis. It is well to point out in conclusion that social familiarity and other evidences of in-group cohesiveness do not prove the absence of elite schisms (cf. War of the Roses, and innumerable other examples of the contrary, including the Moscow trials of the 1930’s). But they do indicate what form political warfare will take if it does occur within the general elite.

IV-8. Geographical identification. Another widespread identification of individuals is with some geographical section. The nation is, in part, an idea of familiar and beloved land, even when it spreads into regions an individual has never visited himself. Other identifications reach down into the provinces, cities, villages and even neighborhoods. When symbols reach and stimulate a person, he often receives, vies and evaluates them in such localistic terms. Most often, there is actually some organization of these localistic references, i.e. not only does Mr. A. feel and think as part of Village X, but Village X has its own elite that is differentiated from the general elite by strong biases favoring local demands, needs and tastes. A study of history, customs and current behavior, coupled with an analysis of the immobility of elite in a given area and of the unrepresentative character of elites of the larger geographical areas, may reveal a high degree of autonomous reaction among the local elite, and a consequent need to adjust propaganda drastically to cope with the different view of the world involved among the local as opposed to the national elites.

As with functional groupings, such as occupations, religions, and fraternal associations, the area grouping is diffident by the limit of its references. That is, its members consist of all those who achieve more than a minimal score in their psychological attention to the group. The high scorers, correspondingly, are those who have high activity and high leadership in the group. They are the special elite. This is the most efficient mode of differentiating this elite component from other elite components.

IV-9. Content Analysis of Roles. The press is a common source of information on roles. A count of names in the news, their contest and the group with which they are identified, is useful in fixing the affiliations of the elite. Official government announcements and documents, such as honors lists and legislative hearings, also provide material on elite affiliations.

IV-10. Group Cross-Pressures Analysis. Cross-pressures are intra-individual, inter-individual or intra-group and inter-group. Intra-individual cross-pressures occur when two roles of a person conflict, as for example, the citizen-role is at odds with the soldier-role, the national with the local, or the professional with the national interest. The individual then assumes more moderate position or retreats into apathy or, infrequently, becomes very aggressive in one of the roles as he "guiltily" strives to repress the other. In the second case, intra-group cross-pressure occurs when secondary or other roles of some group members are present and conflict with the role being considered, whereas other group members do not possess such conflicting roles or perhaps even have supplementary, fortifying roles to the one being considered. The third cross-pressure type occurs when two groups, which are on an absolute scale equally identified with a particular symbol (such as the "nation"), are thrown on to different scalar positions towards this symbol and another symbol to which one of the groups adheres. An example would be nationalism, which is shared equally by two groups under most conditions, and which, when it conflicts with the pacifism of one of the groups, is no longer regarded equally by both groups.

Divide and conquer is the commonsense term applied to the technique of playing on all three types of cross-pressures, when the object is to weaken elite unity. Again basic social data on the elite, either of an aggregate kind or of personal data, is essential to the determination of the existence of cross-pressures. When a given issue is expressed in symbols that harm group A and help group B, the issue should be checked with the alignment of elite identifications to determine who will be helped how much, and who will be harmed how much; then an estimate can be prepared of the reactions to be expected: i.e., the pros, the cons, and the person and groups who will be neutralized by the conflict.

PC.GIF     N C.GIF    

 Table of Contents